The Translational Cardiology Lab of the Stem Cell Institute of the KU Leuven plays a major role in two key topics of the GYM project. First, the group of Sampaolesi is leading in fundamental research on the specificity of the mesoangioblasts. Why does one cell differentiate into muscle tissue and the other differentiates into heart tissue? Translating key findings of this basic research into a clinically relevant outcome is key for improving the quality and specificity of the muscle stem cells in order to increase the regenerative potential of the stem cell therapy. As in many muscular dystrophies, in addition to the muscle, the heart is also affected, this increases the relevance and benefits of the research for a more comprehensive treatment even further. Second, the team is leading in developing the technology to correct the genetic defect in stem cells of patients with muscular dystrophies, which is one of the objectives of the GYM project.
The GYM project offers KU Leuven an opportunity to collaborate across borders with experts to strengthen their research area
The Translational Cardiomyology Lab investigates muscle diseases, both in skeletal and cardiac muscle, at the molecular and cellular level. The research and acquired knowledge are applied in development of applications and therapies, to improve the well-being and quality of life of patients. The lab was established to perform research into the therapeutic properties of muscle stem cells, namely the mesoangioblasts, in dystrophic mice and dogs as model organisms. Since then, these stem cells have become an area of interest within the lab because of their potential as stem cell therapy for muscular dystrophies, targeting skeletal muscle and heart muscle tissue alike. The GYM project coincides perfectly with the objectives of the research unit. The GYM project offers KU Leuven an opportunity to collaborate across borders within the EMR with experts to strengthen their research area, including valorisation of the technology developed (patent available). This provides a strong motivation to participate in GYM and vice versa GYM could not excel without having this institute on board.